Tag Archives: privacy

Amazon: The New Big Brother


Like most people, I’m addicted to the latest online fad: Internet shopping. I trawl endlessly through cyberspace looking for new things for myself, rejoicing in the warm feeling I get when I press ‘buy’ on those cute new socks with pictures of banana’s on them, even if the act of buying them online has only saved me a few measly dollars. However, this endless trawling is painting a very clear picture about me – my tastes in clothing, my consuming preferences – without me even being aware that this is occurring. Take the online shop Amazon, I am forever scrolling through its pages, typing in the search bar what types of items I wish to look for, amazed when looking at one cd to buy another 10 pop up that are from bands that I either already love or end up enjoying.

The fact is, Amazon has been collecting my information for years. Not just addresses and payment information but the identity of everything I’ve ever bought or even looked at. And while dozens of other companies do that, Amazon’s doing something remarkable with theirs – they’re using that data to build our relationship. The ability of Amazon to store personal information about myself and the millions of other consumers that use its website presents a very interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, products are streamlined to my exact wants and needs saving me time and effort in my endless searches for things I never really need. On the other, I know very little about how this information is obtained (something about computer algorithms and the inedible kind of cookies?), how it is stored and, more importantly, how it is used for the benefit of third parties. Long gone are the days of general purpose computing, these days even typing in to my Word Press right now may be shooting off tiny bits of information to various third parties, all interested in giving me the ‘best online experience’.

Truth be told at the moment I’m more concerned about making sure no-one outbids me on my latest eBay purchase than thinking about who and what has access to my personal information. But after looking more closely at the significant impact even the slightest click of my mouse can have it’s definitely food for thought…